What values should we hold on to

What values should we hold on to

Our values change when we are faced with dread disease and death. We may not say so, we may not even think so, but they do. As the Financial Times explained, so lucidly, ‘The bank of Mum & Dad is closed’. We retreat to our homes, cut down on frivolous spending, protect the family first, stockpile durable food. It is completely natural. Priorities are home and family. What else could they be? Self-defense is a fruit we always keep fresh.

Saving lives vs. saving economies faces us with a stark choice of our values. Covid-19 has placed the question squarely in front of us. The right to life is a prized and precious one that few would question. Precisely what sort of life is determined by the interpretation politicians put on the mandate given them by the voters at the polls. There is a gap between an incontrovertible truth and its implementation. Did the United States Republican voter seek to have a State / Federal confrontation as close to civil war as any, post WWII?

Democracy is threatened by autocracy. It has been for a long time in the west, rather more than autocracy is threatened by democracy in the east. Although wealth brings demands for freedom. So far, those demands have met with repression. And during Covid-19 that repression has increased. ‘It is a good time to bury unpalatable news’ – the rest of the world is busy at home. It seems shocking that we can be distracted from the needs of others because we are threatened. How can we reconcile our wider values with domestic demands?

Granted that on a sinking ship our nearest and dearest come first, how do we keep other important standards shining? In a crisis our instincts are understandably short-term. But the purpose of resolving the crisis is for happiness and joy over a long life. What ensures that is the environment in which the survivors will be able to lead their lives. War seems unlikely in the form in which we knew it with guns and bombs. It is, however, extremely likely in trade and the bullying of individuals and smaller states. Peaceful resistance does not always work.

We need to start from the individual. Unless we demonstrate, through all our laws and practices, that the individual is the basis of our society, we shall have no society. And the foundation of individuals is human rights. Even if it seems problematic that human rights can be universally applied, unless we attempt to do so we will have no foundation for the other essential values of justice and truth. It all sounds a bit grand and United Nations – and those are the very words we use to dismiss it from our conscience.

A frightened voter is a spoiled ballot paper. A frightened voice is an increasingly weakening example of a human. Enough fear is the end of freedom. We use ‘being realistic’ to obscure duty in speaking out, speaking for freedom. Our compromises with freedom are progressively moving towards the other point of view – that control is vital and free speech, a myth. There is a step too far in this process. Nobody knows precisely where it is – until they have passed it.

It is remarkably close already.

An individual speaking out makes little impression. A lot doing so make enough impression to convince their leaders to pay attention. I still have freedom to write this Daily Paradox today. My freedom is soon over at my age. My great grandchildrens’ freedom is just starting.

I hope that they will have the freedom to write their version of the Daily Paradox when the time comes.

It will be a sad and unpleasant world if they can’t.